A bad pre-eminence in this respect belonged to Crete, which, from its
favourable situation and the weakness or laxity of the great states
of the west and east, was the only one of all the Greek settlements
that had preserved its independence. Roman commissions doubtless came
and went to this island, but accomplished still less there than they
did even in Syria and Egypt. It seemed almost as if fate had left
liberty to the Cretans only in order to show what was the result of
Greek independence. It was a dreadful picture.
The old Doric
rigour of the Cretan institutions had become, just as in Tarentum,
changed into a licentious democracy, and the chivalrous spirit
of the inhabitants into a wild love of quarrelling and plunder;
a respectable Greek himself testifies, that in Crete alone nothing
was accounted disgraceful that was lucrative, and even the Apostle
Paul quotes with approval the saying of a Cretan poet,
--Kretes aei pseustai, kaka theria, gasteres argai--.